Cat Rambo (catrambo) wrote,
Cat Rambo

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From the Classroom

One of the pleasures of being local to Seattle and doing some volunteer work for Clarion West is the occasional chance to sit in on the classroom. Today I heard the last day of Paul Park's teaching. Paul is a terrific teacher. I took a one day workshop with him through NW MediaArts ( and would readily do so again, because he is easily one of the best I've had the pleasure of listening to (Connie Willis and John Crowley are right up there too, and also experienced through one of the NW MediaArts classes.)

Some random things taken from my notes:

Short stories differ from novels in their tendency to show a character going through a change that is dictated by the events of the story in a close correlation that is not usually found in real life. In a novel, the change is more organic, and can emerge as a result of subtle relationships and causes that are more true to life. The novel thus has the space to make the change more realistic. Anthony Trollope novels are a good example. In a novel, people can change just because they're aging.

Facial expressions and physiological reactions in fiction are a limited vocabulary for showing a character's internal state, They tend to ask for exaggeration in order to be noticeable for the reader. Too much reliance on them may be due to laziness on the part of a writer. They tend to take some of the work off the scene itself, when the scene should be doing the heavy lifting of the story.  You can use this vocabulary as a matter of emphasis in a scene or as a way of varying technique from scene to scene.

Worldbuilding comes through different ways of presenting description and is a way to evoke a complicated series of emotions. You can use fluctuations of diction in your worldbuilding to create a mood, and the way you sequence these fluctuations can crate emotion in a landscape.

Character-driven stories: sometimes characters under stress can't move forward. The character has to catch up on the story and then be ready to move, rather than moving it through imposing a plot from above.

40 more pages to work through on this draft, including supplying some missing scenes,  Off to wrestle with that in a bit.
Tags: clarion west, paul park, teaching
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